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Tips for Sustainable SMEs

SMEs are the bedrock of Europe

They make up more than 99% of businesses in the European Union, employ two thirds of all private sector employees, and contribute to 53% of the added value created by the EU27 non-financial business sector.

[Source: EUROPEAN COMMISSION Executive Agency for Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (EASME) ANNUAL REPORT ON EUROPEAN SMEs 2018/2019 Research & Development and Innovation by SMEs November 2019 on Eurostat’s Structural Business Statistics (SBS) data].

This means that SMEs have the power to foster innovation, positively impact the real economy and create value for communities, therefore ensuring long-term sustainable development.

Sustainability is also a growth opportunity for SMEs themselves: ongoing research shows a positive relationship between the sustainable behaviour of SMEs and their financial performance and demonstrates that the adoption of sustainable business models enables companies to address crises more effectively.

Sustainability is everyone’s opportunity!

Sustainable development is also one of the fundamental objectives of the European Union and is now the priority of the Next Generation EU: 750 billion euros to be allocated according to sustainable criteria and addressing sustainability-related topics, such as environment, natural resources, cohesion, digital innovation and health programmes. Because standing by SMEs in their sustainable transformation means helping Europe develop a more inclusive and green economy.

Discover the services and initiatives designed to promote the sustainable transition of SMEs at European level:

  • European Circular Economy Stakeholder Platform (ECESP): A platform that connects networks together (business associations including SMEUnited, civil society organisations, think-tanks, research centres and public bodies) to share good practices, news and events relative to circular economy. They organize regularly “Circular Talks” on different topics in the form of online workshops, webinars or interviews with high-profile supporters and experts of the circular economy.
  • European Environmental Technology Verification (ETV): A service provided by the European Commission to help companies with new innovative environmental technologies reach the market with a competitive advantage. The ETV process takes the technology through a third-party validation, which assesses the performance of the technology based on independent and credible information. It targets particularly SMEs.
  • European Resource Efficiency Knowledge Centre (EREK):A center that helps European companies, especially SMEs, save energy, material and water costs by providing tools, information and business opportunities on ways to be resource efficient and benefit from circular economy business models.
  • Enterprise Europe Network (EEN): A network that helps businesses innovate and grow on an international scale. It is the world’s largest support network for SMEs with international ambitions. It also supports SMEs in their transition to more sustainable business models and promotes the uptake of the EU EcolabelEMAS or the Product Environmental Footprint for instance.

EU for sustainability

European institutions help SMEs invest in sustainability: discover how.

Learn more